This paper compares the histories of two museums of polar exploration, both founded in the 1930s but based on well-known expeditions dating back to the decades around 1900. The first is the Fram Museum in Oslo, centered on the famous Norwegian polar ship; the second is the Andrée Museum in Gränna, Sweden, combining accounts of the ill-fated balloon expedition with a polar centre reflecting more recent polar research activities.
It can be argued that these institutions originally were firmly rooted in notions of polar exploration that in important aspects stand in contrast to the altruistic, transnational rhetoric of the IPY’s. The conflicting images of the arctic explorer as either the heroic champion of his mother country or the scientific collaborator in common, international pursuit of progress, remains a central issue for museums of polar exploration in their efforts to display “the modern arctic nation”. As society, culture and science changes, so do museums. Their attempts to represent both the past and the present of polar research involve changing and often conflicting notions of nation, gender and modern science.
Highlighting the narrative aspect of museum collection and display, the paper combines Mieke Bals theories of narratology with recent research on Arctic exploration as a medialized enterprise, aimed at a public audience.
How do "the grand narratives" of Sweden and Norway relate to the epic representations of polar activities and IPY activities, presented by the museums?